Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

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September 12, 2014
Black-Crowned Night Herons Thriving

Last winter the Chicago Park District, after consulting with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Urban Wildlife Institute, made the very difficult decision to remove a number of trees south of Nature Boardwalk in Lincoln Park. Many of these trees were ash that suffered terrible damage at the hands (well, actually mouths) of the emerald ash borer beetle, and became safety concerns.

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September 16, 2011
Pandorus Sphinx Moth

This spectacular, massive insect is a pandorus sphinx moth. If I didn't know better, I'd guess this was a bug found in tropical rainforests or a similar exotic locale, far away from the asphalt and skyscrapers of downtown Chicago. But amazing as it may seem, this insect is found right here in the city.

September 13, 2011
Trio of Cormorants

A trio of double-crested cormorants has graced us with their presence at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Last year we saw one on October 5, so this is the second year in a row we’ve seen these birds come through the ecosystem in the fall.

September 8, 2011
Where Did the Painted Turtles Go this Summer?

We’ve been tracking a subset of the painted turtles at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo all summer. Now that the season is drawing to a close, I’d like to show you two examples of what the data look like from this project. In the process, you’ll get to see what these turtles did at Nature Boardwalk over “summer vacation!” (As you’ll see, they did a bit of traveling.)

First, we’ll start with Turtle P.

August 31, 2011
A Killdeer’s Bag of Tricks

This little shorebird was spotted recently at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Actually, I heard it before I saw it, as this little guy was making quite the racket!

The killdeer gets its peculiar name from the sound of its loud, high-pitched call, which supposedly sounds like the bird is yelling “kill-deer.” Killdeers are a type of shorebird called a plover. Plovers mostly eat invertebrates, such as insects.

August 18, 2011
Hatchling Snapping Turtle

At this time of year, snapping turtle hatchlings begin to emerge from their nests on land and make their way to water. We recently found this little one making its way to the pond at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Our pond offers good snapping turtle habitat because it has a muddy bottom and lots of emergent and aquatic vegetation around the edges, which the species likes.

August 10, 2011
Elusive Ladies

A female blue dasher dragonfly at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo.

The first time I saw this dragonfly above, I was convinced I must be looking at a new species, one I’d never seen before at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. It turns out this is actually a blue dasher, one of the most common species at the pond. Although I’d counted dozens of blue dashers at Nature Boardwalk, I’d never seen a female!

August 8, 2011
Goodbye for Now

As the breeding season for the local population of black-crowned night herons draws to a close, we are seeing fewer and fewer herons at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo with each passing day.

At the peak of this breeding season back in May, we observed just over 400 adult herons.

July 27, 2011
Halloween in July?

This small, colorful dragonfly is called a Halloween pennant. It would be easy to mistake it for a butterfly at first, as it flies on colorful brown-and-orange wings with red accents. However, once it lands on a reed or stem, its posture is clearly that of a pennant.

Pennants are a type of dragonfly that gets its name from landing on tall stalks and sticking out like a flag, waving in the breeze.

July 22, 2011
American Snout

When I first saw this butterfly I knew immediately it wasn’t a species I’d seen before at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Who could forget that nose?!

This butterfly has the longest nose of any butterfly I’ve ever seen.

July 18, 2011
Peregrine Falcon on the Hunt

For the past week, a juvenile peregrine falcon has been patrolling from the treetops at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Newly fledged black-crowned night herons, which have taken to hanging out around the island at Nature Boardwalk, are possible targets for the bird of prey. However, the night herons seem to have evaded capture, flapping away with a burst of energy at the last possible moment.

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